LAKE BALBOA -- South Gate starter Daniel Ortiz was supposed to pitch only one inning in the CIF City Section Division II semifinal against Maywood Academy.
But his team staked him to a four-run lead in the first inning and coach Steve Ramirez decided to let Ortiz stay in the game until he ran into trouble.
Trouble never surfaced. Ortiz shut out Maywood, 8-0, and pitched his first complete game of the season at Birmingham High School on Thursday.
Ortiz, a CIF All-City Section selection at catcher, tossed a four-hitter, struck out three and didn’t walk a batter for only his second win of the season.
“We have seven guys that can legitimately throw the ball,” Ramirez said. “Before you know it we score four runs. I wasn’t going to touch him.”
South Gate reached the semifinals of the Division II playoffs last year and lost. Ortiz said he did not want to see a repeat in the semis this year.
“We came this far last year and lost and it sucked,” Ortiz said. “I was kind of skeptical. I was hoping it wasn’t a rerun, and that wasn’t the case.”
Ortiz was dominant out of the gate. He retired the Maywood batters in order in the first inning and sent down nine of the first 10 batters he faced.
Chris Naredo singled for Maywood (21-5) to lead off the second inning, but he was caught trying to steal second base. He was Maywood’s only baserunner in the first three innings.
South Gate, meanwhile, scored early and often against Maywood.
Aaron Ochoa highlighted a four-run, first inning with an RBI double. Gabriel Tiscanero added an RBI single as South Gate sent nine batters to the plate. Ortiz said having a 4-0 lead did wonders for his confidence.
“It was really big,” Ortiz said. “I was good with one. Four got me in a groove.”
South Gate (19-9) added a run in the second inning and another in the third. With a 6-0 lead, Ramirez said he had no reservations about keeping Ortiz on the mound.
South Gate scored two more runs in the sixth inning. Tiscanero was 2-for-3 and drove in two runs. Gerardo Iglesias, the probable starter for South Gate in the championship game against North Hollywood, was 1-for-2, scored two runs and stole a base.
Naredo was 2-for-3 for Maywood, collecting half the hits for his team.
South Gate will play North Hollywood in the Division II championship game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday morning.
“We’re ready. All we need is one run,” Ortiz said. “There are not many errors on our part. All we need is one run and we’ll do great.”